The Difference Was Roses Not Marriage

How much did children change from Grandma’s generation to mine? Based upon our two autograph books, I would say that the differences were minor. Upon examining what my friends wrote to me in 1968 when I was a seventh grader and what Grandma’s pals/chums (that’s what they called each other) wrote when they were in fifth and sixth grade, I observed that bad poetry was a constant in both.

I smiled when I opened the book and saw that the first entry was written by my grandmother, who had lived in the house next to us for many years. When she wrote her poem to me, she was living with Aunt Marian and recovering from a twenty-eight day hospitalization for a ruptured appendix that nearly killed her.

Grandma Carey

A few pages later I saw an autograph from Grandpa’s brother, Pete, who was visiting us from California. That may be the only time he visited us. I never understood why, after being separated from his family for so many years, Uncle Pete moved to the other side of the country.

Uncle Pete

I had a huge appetite as a kid and was known to eat as many as four hamburgers (dipped in applesauce of course) at one time. Grandma would encourage me to snack before supper, hoping it would spoil my appetite. I guess that explains what she wrote to me. Sadly, Grandpa did not sign my book.


Aunt Ar was my only sibling to grace the pages of my zippered, pink autograph book. Jamie will not like the poem she wrote to me, because it clearly shows that my nine-year-old sister felt that teachers were overpaid.


Among my friends, roses, rather than love and marriage, was the favorite topic. It was discussed by 25% of my junior-high friends, each with their own twists of the popular poem.

My friend Robin mentioned the popular sweetener saccharine (in the little pink package), which is Dad’s favorite sweetener that he uses only in tea. (For coffee he uses the blue package.)


Debi had conditions on our friendship with her take-off on the famous poem.

Debi Weeks

Sandy, who was the friend who had the first sleepover I ever went to, where I was levitated by some of the other girls at the party, wrote a more unfriendly take-off of “Rose are Red.” She did apologize, though. She wrote on a second page, but this time, she mentioned bourbon (Four Roses) in her clever little arithmetic post.

Sandy SiragusaSandy 2

I believe some of the less-friendly little ditties were not serious in their negativity, because no one who wrote in my book were my seventh-grade enemies. This next one was written by my friend, Ruth, who ended up buying my grandma’s old house.

Ruth Morris

The final “ roses poem” was not altered at all and was written in it original form (actually not really true)  by my friend Dale, who was Jamie and Kelly’s gymnastic teacher at the YMCA.

Dale Banta

These various take-offs made me wonder if Dale’s version was as it was written originally. It turns out it was not. The first rendition was written in 1590 by a man named Sir Edmund Spencer, and has little resemblance to the poem we have all grown to know and love:

          It was upon a Sommers shynie day,

          When Titan faire his beames did display,

          In a fresh fountaine, farre from all mens vew,

          She bath’d her brest, the boyling heat t’allay;

          She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,

          And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.

Two hundred years later, it morphed into something more familiar:

          The rose is red, the violet’s blue,

          The honey’s sweet, and so are you.

          Thou are my love and I am thine;

          I drew thee to my Valentine:

          The lot was cast and then I drew,

          And Fortune said it shou’d be you.

So there you are. Can you agree that little changed between the time Grandma’s pals wrote in her book and my friends wrote in mine? Also, now you are all ready for “Roses are Red” trivia. Next, I will reveal the rest of the posts.





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